Updated: Nov 24, 2021
Some angels are given proper names according to the services they perform. We know them as archangels. Michael's name denotes "Who is like God?", a question to consider as the archangel Michael is known for his wondrous acts of protection and power. Michael is destined to vanquish Satan, who deigns to "be who is like God," at the end times. Gabriel is known as "The Strength of God" who was sent to Mary to announce the One to come, the humble child who would quell the forces of evil. Raphael's name means "God's Remedy," the angel who touches and heals, the angel of God's healing power. The archangels are pure spirits, powerful messengers, agents of God alone.
"The archangels are pure spirits, powerful messengers, agents of God alone."
At the end of September, we celebrate the Feast of the Archangels and in the annual Blue Mass at the Cathedral on September 26th, we will honor our community's first responders under the patronage of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. The color blue is given to signify the uniform of those who serve as police/correctional officers, fire fighters, EMS personnel and 911 operators -- both living and those who have passed on. Having entered the twentieth year of mourning the September 11th tragedy, we pray for all those who have taken on the vocation to protect and to serve.
Consider the reflection of a local veteran police officer of over 30 years on how his job has changed:
"When I was young, 10 feet tall and bulletproof, I was ready to do it all. Now when on a call I realize that every moment may be somebody's or my own worst moment. You have to be ready for substance abuse problems, knives or guns, mental health issues and you only have six to eight seconds to assess the situation. There's no time to talk things out or listen anymore. People think officers want people to go to prison. We don't. As the years have gone by, my faith has gotten deeper. The most difficult thing for me now is to see a person at his worst moment. Somebody makes a bad choice, they're arrested and they're in jail. That cancels out so much that is good in them that people can't see. As frustrating as it is, I try to spend my time not only working with victims and families, but also with suspects to help them see that a mistake is a mistake, but you don't have to be defined like this. I'm not alone in this. It's part of the growth in being a cop. It's my faith."
The officer goes on to say how much he appreciates the men and women who serve with him, their moral fiber and courage. Another officer relates that it's "an accumulation of razor cuts on your soul over the years that becomes your constant companion." A police chaplain pointed out that, "most people suffer three existential tragedies in a lifetime. Police officers suffer through three per month as do their families alongside them." Other officers relate how they wear the "angel patch" to remind them of whose work they are about and who to call on in times of need.
In the words of Psalm 91, "For God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways. With their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone." When you see the officers in the field, say a prayer for them. Pray for the victims, families and suspects. Never underestimate God's working through these men and women in blue, nor the power of His angels to protect and to serve as they have sworn to do.
"Never underestimate God's working through these men and women in blue, nor the power of His angels to protect and to serve as they have sworn to do."
Sincerely in Christ,
+Bishop Stephen J. Berg